Electrical fire, code violations force roughly 40 international students out of Jersey Shore home

Wildwood Deputy Fire Chief Daniel Dunn said the students with the J-1 visa program were displaced around 1 a.m.

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Friday, July 29, 2022
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Close to 40 international students were displaced from their summer home around 1 a.m. Thursday. Firefighters responded to a small fire but found other issues when they arrived on the scene.

WILDWOOD, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Approximately 40 international students working in Wildwood for the summer were displaced from their home in the middle of the night.

The students, who are from Jamaica, Romania and Turkey, according to officials, were temporarily relocated to a local hotel. They spent the majority of Thursday at one of the city's fire departments awaiting their new housing.

"This was the first summer that a lot of J-1 students are back, and filling these much-needed job voids for local employers. This is just an unfortunate situation all the way around," said Daniel Dunn, deputy fire chief for the City of Wildwood.

Dunn said close to 40 students with the J-1 visa program were displaced from their summer housing around 1 a.m. Thursday. He said they noticed other issues when crews responded to a small electrical fire on the 2600 block of Pacific Avenue.

Wildwood firefighters responded to a small blaze on the 2600 block of Pacific Avenue on July 28, 2022.

"Several imminent hazard type code violations came to light and had to be addressed. These involved not only the fire code but electrical code issues as well," said Dunn.

Dunn said the code violations included overcrowding and a commercial occupancy being used as a rental.

On Thursday, students were getting their belongings out of the building. It's now vacant and the power is off. It won't be turned back on unless it's approved by the city's construction office, according to Dunn.

He said the owner of the property, the landlord, is being cited for multiple violations by various city departments.

"I don't know what his motive was, but it certainly was an issue where you have a building where there are quite a few occupants in it, and unfortunately they're now out of a home," said Dunn.

Dunn said the students mainly work at local hotels and restaurants.

"They're fulfilling a critical need for the labor pool locally for the businesses," said Dunn.

Dunn doesn't believe the building was ever used for J-1 students before. He said J-1 students finding landlords to rent from down the shore this summer was an overall issue.

The Wildwood Fire Department helped all the students find permanent housing until the end of the summer season.

Action News reached out to the building's landlord and to the students' agency but we have not heard back.